The brand image of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has been dented over its sputtering on the induction of electric buses. A tender for operating 150 electric buses in a phased manner through a private company got embroiled in a series of controversies, which ultimately resulted in it being scrapped in mid-February. The Cabinet approved the decision of the corporation’s board. This decision came at a cost with the corporation losing over Rs. 85 crore subsidy from the Centre under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles India (FAME India) scheme. The failure of the project to take off was criticised by citizens and environmental experts calling for a cleaner, more energy efficient fleet. But this may not be end of the road for e-buses. On March 7, before the Code of Conduct for the upcoming elections came into force, the BMTC called for ‘expression of interest’ for the supply of 1,500 electric buses.
The buses will be inducted in a phased manner for a period of five years. The expression of interest not only called for installation of the necessary charging infrastructure but also the exploration of various models of inducting and operating buses in the future. BMTC officials are expecting global companies to participate in the expression of interest. The companies have been asked to provide details on bus specifications, battery type, battery cycles guaranteed, technology transfer and hand holding and type of charging infrastructure to be provided. A source in the BMTC said, “There are many global and Indian companies producing eE-buses. This expression of interest was primarily called to get an understating of the different models other than Outright Purchase or Gross Cost Contract (GCC). The e-bus market is seeing advancement over the years, and that needs to consider as well.” At present, the BMTC has a fleet of 6,529 diesel-run buses, which are operated from 45 depots with 3 major bus stations, and 10 traffic and transit management centres.